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Poster: Capt. Cook Date: Nov 29, 2010 10:29pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

Almost as much as Mama Tried>Mexicali which is a bathroom break/beer run in the making and really just get the hell on with it so we can hear Jerry sing Brown Eyed Women or maybe a nice Birdsong. Jeez, I wish the whole cowboy thing had just passed Bobby right on by. What were they thinking, living in the Bay singing about the Texas panhandle for godsake... Frank Zappa said it best "Shut up, and play your guitar!"

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Poster: CharlieMiller Date: Nov 30, 2010 4:34am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

I agree. In 1988, I started to dig Mama Tried, but overall, that cowboy shot sucks.

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Poster: leftwinger57 Date: Nov 30, 2010 1:40pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

I'll also agree w/ this thread . But for some strange reason Loser does get to me. It does tend to build and there seems to be a very believeable story within the lyrics. If you consider Jack Straw it will be there also.

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Poster: Leonard Liotta Instructor English Date: Nov 30, 2010 12:29pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

Here is my take on the cowboy songs: they ARE IMPORTANT; since they are not the stellar regions to where the Dead travel, the cowboy songs offer a philosophic relation for which to judge other points, or parts in the show.

IMO they are neccessary in the way a single note (F#) has no meaning without another note to judge it's relationship and begin a trajectory into melody. Another example is a circle, and a a single point in the circle has relativly little significance without and other point in the circle--then a "pattern" emerges.

I am happy when they appear in a set-list;these songs are necessary, to have a complete GD concert--all the parts work toward a whole or completeness that few other bands can attain.

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Poster: unclejohn52 Date: Nov 30, 2010 1:00pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: full plate

Excellent post! Drawing another analogy - cowboy tunes are like the salad or cranberry sauce - dinner would be incomplete without 'em. We can't just eat meat...

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Poster: Diamondhead Date: Nov 30, 2010 11:48am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

In the early 70's that country rock craze encompassed cowboy songs and Bakerfield. I was totally into to it for a while and so I still like some of that stuff today. I wonder if this another period sort of thing.

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Poster: DeadRed1971 Date: Nov 30, 2010 3:20pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

I wonder if the boys got to stop in and meet Buck Owens prior to Buck & the Buckaroos shows at the Fillmore West in October 1968. The Dead headlined at the Avalon Ballroom those nights.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2569/4132296698_0e673ed677_o.jpg

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Poster: William Tell Date: Nov 30, 2010 12:22pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

You are one of the few, the chosin, the rare--to mention Bakersfield in a sentence other than a one liner about "I once spent a month there one night" or some such.

I actually love the hills and plains (original ones) near the town. Beautiful areas to get to within about an hour. Lots of crime these days though...

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Poster: ringolevio Date: Nov 30, 2010 2:51pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

I'm another one who can mention Bakersfield in lots of different sentences, as a previous significant other hailed from there, and for years after, it seemed to me that references to Bakersfield turned up like a bad penny everywhere.

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Poster: Diamondhead Date: Nov 30, 2010 4:25pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

Geez. Merle Haggard, Buck Owens. And later, Emmylou, Flying Burritos. There was a year where I did monthly commutes between the Bay and LA. Sun. Fun. Stay. Play. And that is all I remember.

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Poster: Dudley Dead Date: Nov 30, 2010 7:31am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

I think, with the "cowboy tunes" , it is question of "when" . They just lost the feel for them as the 80's progressed . By coupling them, seemed to be the beginning of this . And the return of Hart, didn't help these sort of songs . I think Bob's heart moved from the country ( WRS ) to the city ( Stranger ) . I might have helped to learn some new ones . We have talked about this all before .
In a late 72 AUD ( can't recall ) , you hear a guy call out "Me & my Uncle", and you think "what and IDIOT", after all it was the most played Dead song etc., but then you remember , it was still at that point "KICK ASS" . Those early 70's ones are great ( and yes I love the "Cowboy" sandwiches , TOO>cowboy tune>TOO ).
Jerry still could come up with some good stuff in Big River, though the overall execution of the song , sucked ... at least in comparison with , say 74 .

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Nov 30, 2010 6:01am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

Well, I'll be the uncool one here and admit I really, really like MAMU > Big River. Separately and together. They both just make me happy. Which probably isn't just uncool, it's really weird, given the lyrics!

Seriously, I do find it fascinating how the GD could take lyrics that are so grim and/or weepy and somehow turn them into such a happy-dance fest. I mean, if you were planning things out - if you were some current band with a marketing-savvy manager and all -- would you DO that?!?

On the other hand, I agree about Mama Tried > Mexicali. Don't hate them; they sort of go in the B category for me. Or B minus, for all the repetition. Of course, I'm an easy grader.

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Poster: midnightcarousel Date: Nov 30, 2010 7:33am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

I think Mexicali Blues is an absolutely brilliant song, certainly among the top five compositions by Weir (some might say that's not saying much, but I think he's a good songwriter). Its simplicity is its charm for me. Plus the chords are pretty clever, if you care about that sort of thing.

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Nov 30, 2010 8:37am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

Or if you know about that sort of thing :-) What makes them clever? Serious question. I think a lot of Weir's stuff sounds rather clever, structurally, but I don't really know. For me, it's always more about whether a song grabs me ... just a personal thing ... and Mexicali has a nice sound (IMO), it's just not huge for me. But I'd be really curious to know about the chord thing.

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Poster: midnightcarousel Date: Nov 30, 2010 3:56pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

This probably won't be very enlightening, but I'll try anyway.

"Why the chords of Mexicali Blues are clever"
by midnightcarousel

1. The song is in D, but during the verses the chords look like this:

A7 | A7 | C B | Em | A7 | A7 | D | D
A7 | A7 | C B | Em | A7 | A7 | D | D
G | B | Em | Em | A7 | A7 | D | D
G | B | Em | Em | A7 | A7 | D | D

As you can see, for each line the only time an actual D chord is played is at the end. I think that's pretty cool.

2. The G | B | Em transition is sexy.

3. This is more an elaboration of 1 - the fact that the first six measures are a twisted journey towards the tonic (D) means that we are hanging on musically just as we are hanging on lyrically (that may sound like bullshit but I'm serious)

4. From a non-technical viewpoint the chords are just whippy and catchy and cool.

In short, for all the simplicity of the song, it is somehow extremely enticing (and fun to play, I might add). Also, the melodic line "Laid back in an old saloon" has a really nice flow to it (ascending->descending->ascending).

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Poster: micah6vs8 Date: Nov 30, 2010 8:26am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

MC , I tried the StS from 11/20 . It was nice to finally hear Bobby @ 5' . It was O.K. I listened to the rest of the set and I can say I have no regrets leaving early . Franklin's was pretty darn good though (Phil).
And I agree with you on Mexicali . Esp. those '72-'74 versions .

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Poster: unclejohn52 Date: Nov 30, 2010 11:40am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

Most of us think he's a good songwriter. fo sho! (~);-)

As to the chords - are you referring to the opening licks (D-C#-D-Dsus4-D-D(open E)-D) stuff? (kind of pseudo Spanish flavor). Not so easy on acoustic - is it easier to play on an electric?

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Poster: DeadRed1971 Date: Nov 30, 2010 2:57pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

Unfortunately he had some lame ass lyrics from John Perry Barlow.

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Poster: ringolevio Date: Nov 30, 2010 11:13am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

I agree. I don't know about Top 5, but it's a smooth little tune, it pulls its weight for sure.

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Poster: ringolevio Date: Nov 30, 2010 11:12am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

>Well, I'll be the uncool one here and admit I really, really like MAMU > Big River.

I do too. I like Mama Tried a lot, too.

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Poster: shakeitupnow Date: Nov 30, 2010 12:24pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

I'm with you, I like Mama Tried. It's my mom's ringtone, in fact.

This post was modified by shakeitupnow on 2010-11-30 20:24:35

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Poster: ringolevio Date: Nov 30, 2010 1:27pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

That's funny.
It's just really upbeat (despite the lyrics) and carries me along every time. I don't exactly think of Mama Tried as a cowboy tune but I guess it is.

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Poster: truckin52073 Date: Nov 30, 2010 7:11am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

I'm going to jump on the band wagon with you on this one. These songs never fail to make me feel good and smile. I've especially been diggin' on Big River here lately. Sometimes I just don't have time for the big 2nd set jams. For me, these first set "throw away songs" are sort of a litmus test for me as to whether the band came to play. It's not always the case, but seems to be a pretty good indicator. Any suggestions on hot combos of the two songs? 8/7/82 is a scorcher.

I agree with you as well on the Mexicali thing. By the way, I always enjoy your posts and insights.

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Dec 1, 2010 12:11am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

Thanks. Btw I was lucky enough to be at 8/7/82, and yeah, it really cooks.

Geez, there are so many great MAMU > BRs (other opinions notwithstanding) ... today's TDIH is a wonderful one (12/1/79). And from there it goes to Loser. Can you get any better? (It's late enough in the thread that maybe no one will answer that, LOL, but still. I love all those songs.) Too bad they then then go into a ... cue up music from Jaws ... BRENT song. Noooooo! But other than that, great 1st set (and astonishing 2nd set).

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Poster: ringolevio Date: Nov 30, 2010 4:50am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

But tell us how you really feel about it LOL!

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Poster: user unknown Date: Nov 30, 2010 9:50am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

Hey now! What's wrong with the cowboy songs. El Paso, Big River and Mama Tried are both pretty good, although I would have to say Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard do them better. MAMU can be very entertaining as well. I guess I just like cowboy tunes.

This post was modified by user unknown on 2010-11-30 17:50:20

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Poster: leftwinger57 Date: Nov 30, 2010 2:53pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

Maybe that's the problem. They'er all covers. To me it doesn't matter ,but to you die hard golden ears maybe subconciously that 's the problem. For me most of the cowboy stuff is upbeat and as I said before, Loser is just fine w/ it building towards the end and the whole card game theme makes actual sense.Much rather have 5 quick
cowboy tunes than one drawn out Stella Blue.....LW

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Poster: user unknown Date: Nov 30, 2010 3:44pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

you don't like Stella Blue?


It all rolls into one
and nothing comes for free
There's nothing you can hold
for very long
And when you hear that song
come crying like the wind
it seems like all this life
was just a dream

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Poster: leftwinger57 Date: Nov 30, 2010 4:33pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

YEH I'd have to admit that . The end all was a Steela Blue in the middle of the Deads 2nd set and seemed to put people
to sleep. This was when they opened for the WHO
and by all accounts they were mediocre at best and the Who played rings around them.I don't know if it was a goof or not but the Dead ended w/ JBG then the WHO kick ass, Bill Graham asked them for an encore and they did JBGOODE w Kieth singing it. This for me was the first time for seeing the WHO and they did not dissapoint. Basically it was a snooze fest by the time the WHO did there thing. Stella Blue outside 60,000 people not the song I would use.

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Poster: jds121291 Date: Nov 30, 2010 5:24am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

haha i used to always wonder why they would do mexicali > el paso as a novice head but grew a fondness for both tunes over time. especially when i heard the original el paso.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Nov 30, 2010 6:44am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I think we need perspective?

Well, I can tell you, we all might be a bit jaded. IE, prior to 2005, prior to learning there were 600 of the bastards, I always consider M&MU a definitive DEAD tune.

Those folks I often mentioned debating the DEAD with? More than one said, and I quote: "Listen dumbass, M&MU is a great song, but DS?!? It's just noise"

It was ALWAYS a tune I used on "hits to win over newbies" and such.

Anyhow, I do agree NOW, but before I'd heard so many, it was a fav. So, we may be jaded.

Last, the M&MU's out of OOnes in fall of 71 are to die for, back in the day, and even yesterday, frankly.

I always loved that pairing.

That's my pitch--or are you saying you ALWAYS hated the cowboy tunes?

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Poster: unclejohn52 Date: Nov 30, 2010 7:39am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I think we need perspective?

Yes, I agree with your assessment - these are all great tunes, they just got played to death. MAMU - over 600, El Paso - 388, Mexicali - 435, Big River - 397. None of them lend themselves to improvisation... and it feels like over time, they actually got bored playing them. (some desultory vocals from BW in the 80s) Earlier 70s versions are more entertaining for me. Really like Garcia pouring out notes on MAMA and El Paso, and Big River really builds to a great crescendo, especially with Keith on keys. There's just nothing distinctive that makes these tunes remarkable over time. Yep, we're a picky bunch.

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Poster: duckpond74 Date: Nov 30, 2010 11:42am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I think we need perspective?

"... Big River - 397. None of them lend themselves to improvisation... "

I beg to differ here, offering the fantastic 6-16-74 Des Moines Eyes > Big River as an example of how they took the Big River groove and cooked it to perfection for several minutes, making that segue one of the most unusual, head-scratchin', hard dancin', musically inspired improvisations the band turned out - and it was tight ta' boot!

Overplayed, yes, but none of those cowboy songs mentioned were ever so dreaded as ending a wonderful show with the IMHO overplayed -to-a-cliche' One More Saturday Night. I saw the first two performances of Saturday Night and loved this new Bob tune - quirky guitar intro and a key change. But even by the late 70's, it's prime place as the almost obligatory second set closer or encore to so many shows i attended was dreaded each time after hearing those first 5 notes. It was this 'predictability' with the band that i loved for it's 'unpredictability' that turned me off on the tune. Maybe it was the onset of the 'Bobby as rock star' that drove those nails in . . . funny, though, i never felt that way about Sugar Magnolia even up to and including 7-2-95.

I guess over time, seeing Bob the quirky young singer with the Northern California accent turn into Bob the screamer with the 'I am a rock star (aren't I?) antics, was just a disappointment for me. And for the record, I do appreciate some of Bob's current vocals, as in Further doing Ripple in Denver earlier this year (3-6-10). Different Strokes . . .

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Poster: unclejohn52 Date: Nov 30, 2010 12:29pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I think we need perspective?

Caught me with an excellent Big River - guilty of over-generalizing. But you have to admit, that's an exceptional one, although I think Big River usually cooked pretty nicely.

I think we're on the same page regarding predictability - I like all the cowboy tunes, but dislike hearing them so often, and when they're played to lackluster result. Even Sugar Mag/Sunshine Daydream gets old.

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Poster: BVD Date: Nov 30, 2010 6:58am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I think we need perspective?

Dig the cowboy tunes except Mex Blues. Yes, TOO>MAMU>TOO are killer. One of my favorite pieces of music is from 8/1/73--DS>EL PASO>EYES>DEW

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Nov 30, 2010 8:26am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I think we need perspective?

>the M&MU's out of OOnes in fall of 71 are to die for, back in the day, and even yesterday, frankly.

Absolutely. It seems like a weird pairing on the face of it, except that those early MAMUs just had so much intensity -- it really works brilliantly.

Btw, agree on that other point too -- I've certainly heard way more MAMUs in the last few years than I ever did "back in the day." Silly me, I actually thought it was some kind of huge treat to hear a MAMU. Wow! Lucky again!!! Amazing :-)

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Poster: William Tell Date: Nov 30, 2010 8:51am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I think we need perspective?

Yup--I did as well! I recall the really fast one in Jun 75 when he uses the alt verses we spoke of sometime back ("...cracked him in the jaw..." or whatever) and thinking "whoaaa! better than a StSt!"...well, okay...but almost).

And, I am really serious about how many nonDEAD friends did tell me more than once that it was a great tune, along with UJBand, and a few others, but that I could take the jam songs and stuff them.

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Poster: Diamondhead Date: Nov 30, 2010 4:37pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I think we need perspective?

Just so long as it doesn't bother you that it was written in a drunken stupor by John Phillips of the Mommas & Poppas.

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Poster: Capt. Cook Date: Nov 30, 2010 8:17pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I think we need perspective?

I much prefer the Me & Bobby McGee inside The Other One as done in these excellent shows:

http://www.archive.org/details/gd72-05-03.sbd.masse.142.sbeok.shnf

http://www.archive.org/details/gd1972-09-28.110020.sbd.BEAR.gem.flac16

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Poster: SomeDarkHollow Date: Nov 30, 2010 7:12am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I think we need perspective?

Perspective? I think you have the wrong forum, sir.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Nov 30, 2010 7:27am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I think we need perspective?

True; I should've said "we all need to come around to MY perspective or we'll just go around and around on this"

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Poster: portmcgroin Date: Nov 30, 2010 7:36am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I think we need perspective?

Space travel to wild west again?

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Poster: SomeDarkHollow Date: Nov 30, 2010 8:01am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I think we need perspective?

Spoken like a true forumite.

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Poster: snori Date: Nov 30, 2010 8:48am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I think we need perspective?

While the only one I personally dislike is El Paso my problem with the others is that they just don't fill the gap left by Pigpen's (short) offerings eg Next Time, The Rub etc. If someone had been able to continue with those songs we wouldn't have had Mamu, BR, Mexicala so often.

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Nov 30, 2010 12:42pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Mickey Hart weighs in

From a 1990 interview:

Q: Billy told me he's rarely in the mood to play the cowboy tunes...

Hart: Yeah, he hates those! I don't really like them, either. I don't like El Paso. Nothing's happening for me. The song has absolutely no meaning to me. I just don't like that song. But I'll play it. It's no sweat... I like Mama Tried all right. El Paso is the only song I really don't like. Oh....and Victim or the Crime.

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Poster: ringolevio Date: Nov 30, 2010 2:53pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Mickey Hart weighs in

Well, these days it seems like maybe even Bob is sick of El Paso. Perhaps that's his difficulty ... he has simply sung it too many times and can't face it anymore.

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Poster: snow_and_rain Date: Nov 30, 2010 4:06pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Mickey Hart weighs in

Not much room for creative drumming in El Paso, it's true.

I'm a tad surprised to see that Mickey didn't like Victim. Not that it's such a great song or anything -- clearly lots of people don't like it -- but the times when I saw it I remember Mickey especially going totally nuts back there.

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Poster: lobster12 Date: Nov 30, 2010 4:33pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Mickey Hart weighs in

That might be the song itself and what it represents more than the playing. There was a huge debate among the band basically saying it hit too close to home about a lot of things. Surprisingly, garcia was the only one other than Bob who didn't care. I think there is a thread about this somewhere in the fourm. If I recall Barlow was pretty steamed about it as well

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Poster: advokat Date: Nov 30, 2010 4:42pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Mickey Hart weighs in

http://www.archive.org/post/251492/victim-or-the-crime

Or straight to the "source": http://artsites.ucsc.edu/GDead/agdl/votc.html

This post was modified by advokat on 2010-12-01 00:42:43

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Poster: micah6vs8 Date: Nov 30, 2010 5:05pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Mickey Hart weighs in

A real good one . Chilling transition to Fire

http://www.archive.org/details/gd91-08-16.sbd.17011.sbeok.flac

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Poster: snow_and_rain Date: Dec 1, 2010 8:39am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Mickey Hart weighs in

I like this one as well. Nice transition to Scarlet, and a fun Stir It Up jam out of Fire..

http://www.archive.org/details/gd1991-03-21.sbd.miller.87289.sbeok.flac16

The Victim meltdown was often pretty cool, and I do appreciate Jerry's soloing in that song -- but the cheesy verses and refrain really bring that song down. Would have been better as an instrumental.

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Poster: lobster12 Date: Nov 30, 2010 4:40pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Mickey Hart weighs in

from the co-author himself...

A thematic essay for The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics.

In 1968 I was an East Coast prep-school snot working on a French Lit. degree at Columbia University when a certain weirdo psychedelic hippie band from San Francisco came to play on campus, and somehow everything changed...

Weir and I met in the mid-'70s through Andy Leonard, an old and very dear friend who'd been brought into the scene by John Barlow and was working for Grateful Dead Records (he shot the cover pic for Mars Hotel.) It was around the time of what were then being called "the last gigs," the idea being that after these shows The Grateful Dead were retiring from the road for good (hah!). Weir and I became close friends pretty quickly, as did Barlow and I -- more on Barlow later. I was living in L.A. then, and was soon regularly coming up to stay with Weir and/or Andy, just to get the hell away from Hollywood for a minute. By the end of the decade, Bob was in the process of working up new songs for the second album by Bobby & The Midnites (v2.0.) Essentially on a whim -- I'm an actor, not a musician or a poet -- I offered to pitch in. I subsequently wrote a few not-especially-memorable lyrics for B. & The M.s, the most well known being "City Girls," which still struggles asthmatically to the surface of the RatDog repertorial pool now and again; but my best and first effort was "Victim or The Crime."

Bob had most of the chorus -- "What fixation feeds this fever/When the (something) moon starts to climb/Da da dum de doo de da da/Am I the victim or the crime?" -- and nothing else. He'd run it by a number of writers, including Barlow as I remember, but no one had been able to provide him with what he was looking for, whatever the hell that may have been. I happened to be there one day when he was bitching about not getting anywhere with it, and I volunteered to take a stab. Mostly out of frustration, I think, he said sure, go ahead, give it a shot. I'd never written for him before, and we had no discussion about what the lyric should be like or what the song ought to be about or where it was supposed to go. I hadn't even heard the music. I just went back to SoCal and sat down with a pen and a legal pad.

The first thing to come was the third line of the chorus (I had it as "Am I living proof or rank deceiver;" Weir later changed "proof" to "truth" which, if less singable, was more to the point.) The rest of the song came out all of a piece and with no effort, which seems to be the case with the most satisfying art in any discipline. Garcia and I talked about that phenomenon once, about getting out of your own way -- the greater the degree to which the ego can be eliminated from the loop, the greater the chance that the trap door to the intuitive will pop open and the good stuff come flying out. In any case, the final lyric is 99% first draft (Weir changed one or three words, as he always does, like a dog marking his territory. It's his prerogative -- he's the one who has to get up there and sing it.) How I managed to come out with just what Bob had in mind is unanswerable; it must have been some sort of non-conscious synchrony, two guys who just happened to be in the same space, and suffering the same existential dread, at the same moment. Mysterious.

"Patience runs out on the junkie." I honestly can't explain where "junkie" came from -- it was just there, waiting, on the top of my brain. But I am a big fan of vowel-rhymes within a line, and it chimed with "runs." It was definitely in the right groove, too, and considerably punchier than (possibly) "flunky" or (no chance) "monkey." I put it down provisionally and went on, figuring that it would never fly and would require changing in some subsequent draft. In fact, Weir never said boo about it; he set the lyric to his mutant-Bartok extravaganza, and Bobby and The Midnites began playing it live right away. But when it came time to record their unfortunate second elpee, certain mainstream and righteously squared-away elements in that band evinced a determined reluctance to record a song with the dread j-word in it. Faintly hypocritical, it seemed to me, as they'd been playing the thing live at practically every gig for some time, but hey. That band croaked, to no one's apparent regret; Bob, however, was into the song and kept playing it, first on a solo acoustic tour -- no mean feat, considering the musical complexity of it -- and then in Rob 'n' Bob shows with Rob Wasserman, and he still plays it with RatDog. The eventual upshot, near as I could tell -- I didn't know it had become a GD tune until Barlow told me -- was that when the Dead went into rehearsals for Built To Last, "Victim" was the only new Weir tune that was all set and ready to go. That's when the stinky fecal matter began to contact the oscillatory air-moving device in earnest.

The j-word! Good God, the hue and cry. Desperate wails of scandalized sensibility! Indignant bellows of outraged morality! And not just, or even mostly, from the band. It's a fact that Brent Mydland was in a state about it from jump, and Phil and Mickey weren't too keen on it either, although I recall Phil objecting more strenuously to "horns of the dilemma." But, for reasons which seem crystal clear to a lot of people but which remain opaque to me, the leader of the anti-"Victim" crusade was our buddy Barlow. "Weir must not -- cannot -- be allowed to stand up there next to Jerry and sing that line," that was the gist of it. Never mind that the line and the word had nothing to do with junk or junkies, much less Garcia, to whose private predilections I was scarcely privy anyway; people were suddenly so high-minded that they wouldn't even say the word (whence "j-word"), much less say why Weir couldn't sing the line, because we were all supposed to understand automatically what the problem was and why Jerry must be protected from this unthinkable offense. Words like "inappropriate" and "unsuitable" were getting heavy workouts. Things got so overwrought that after one show at The Greek in Berkeley, Barlow, who it seems had already been soliciting fellow travelers online at The Well, went on KPFA live from the gig to drum up support amongst the Deadheads for suppressing the song. A write-in campaign or something, I dunno. Well... If you know Bob at all, you know that a surefire way to get him to do something is to tell him that he can't, so that pretty much sealed the deal. Barlow never spoke to me about the word, but plenty of other folks did -- I was catching grief with both hands. Feeling the heat, I started to cave -- who was I to presume upon The Grateful Dead? -- so I went to Weir and suggested we throw water on the fire by changing it to "flunky" or "luckless" or "jerkoff" or whatnot, but he wasn't having it, to his credit -- he'd been singing the song for four or five years by then and liked it just the way it was. He did finally broach the subject with Garcia, and Jerry said, "I don't give a fuck, sing what you want." How predictable is that?

All that noise over one little word -- seems like your standard teapot tempest now. But as Bob points out, it gave the teapot a good stir: the furor made it plain that we were on to something of value, something about which folks had actual feelings, even if they wouldn't way what those feelings really were. In the event, the band recorded the song and played it regularly for the next five-or-so years, as everyone knows, and soon enough the down-front Deadheads were singing along with Weir. Brent, who hated the lyric but told me that the song "sure is fun to play" pestered Bob and me for a while to change "junkie" to something -- anything -- else; so once, just to get everybody to shut up about it, Bob sang "Patience runs out on the bunny." I don't remember the gig and that was the only time Bob did it, but it became a running joke of sorts for a while. I'm sure there are lots of other iterations of the story in the annals of GD arcana.

"The dark side hires another soul." I had "demon" rather than "dark side," which struck me as rather Star Wars, but Weir liked it and it didn't seem worth arguing about.

"And so I wrestle with the angel." Although I was certainly familiar with the Biblical story of Jacob, I wasn't consciously or specifically thinking of it at that moment, which is a good thing, because I'd probably have tried to work in Jacob's dislocated thigh to no good purpose. I just liked the image, both as a visual and for the sense of terrible and mighty struggle it conjured. The genesis of "who'll reap the seeds I sow" is also Biblical (Galatians 6:7; cf Swinburne, Atalanta in Calydon, stanza 3.) "These are the horns of the dilemma." I recall Phil giving me a raft of shit about this: "Horns of the dilemma?! Tell me you're kidding" etc. etc. The whole song is one big interrogative geschrei about existential dilemma: Are things really as they seem? What does anything mean? Who the fuck am I? I suppose I could have put "the crux of the dilemma" or "the really important thing about the dilemma" or something, but people know and understand the cliche -- that's why it's a cliche. Why muddy the water?

"Sacred fails before profane." I'd written "Sacred quails before profane," "quail" in the sense of give way, cower, recoil. Perfectly good word, but then again: sacred quails...holy quails...holy partridges, Batman! Say, maybe I'd better... Didn't matter, since "fails" worked, and it chimed as nicely with "sacred" and "profane" as "quails" did. The verse is about things being turned upside down, about wondering if everything you believe is, in fact, bullshit. I'd been living and working in Glamorous Hollywood for a decade by then, so in retrospect it seems like a perfectly understandable freakout.

Even at this late stage, it still amazes me that the lyric just came right out of my brain in one go, with little effort and no premeditation, and that it was precisely what Weir wanted, even down to the meter of the lines. Perhaps some unseen hand... It's a shame that the song is so under-represented on disc and DVD; it's not even on Weir Here. Regardless of what anyone thinks about the words, the tune, while not exactly cuddly, remains one of Bob's most sophisticated and arresting compositions, a striking piece of work for which he deserves real credit. Bob says the song's scarcity in the catalogue is due to a lingering prejudice against the horrible j-word. Tut-tut.

In any case, I continue to write with Bob and RatDog, though we've yet to match "Victim" for sheer giddy direness.

-- Gerrit Graham, May 2004

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Poster: William Tell Date: Nov 30, 2010 8:11pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Mickey Hart weighs in

Holy Crap!

I think the above is in part explained by: "...East Coast prep-school snot working on a French Lit. degree at Columbia University"

Yikes...

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Poster: skuzzlebutt Date: Nov 30, 2010 5:40am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

I'll take Uncle, Big River, Mexicali, etc, over 80% of Brent's tunes any day. Can't stand El Paso, though.

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Nov 30, 2010 9:03am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

Eighty percent? What the heck is the other 20 percent?!?

My 14-year-old recently FORCED me to play a full Brent song because, well, he knows I always skip them and I guess he wanted to torture me. His reaction: "Well, it's pretty bad, but at least it's not as bad as Justin Bieber."

Now that's some high praise.

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Poster: SomeDarkHollow Date: Nov 30, 2010 5:54am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

My Uncle I can certainly do without, but every now and then Jerry really turns it on in Big River and shreds the hell out of it. Other times though it can be entirely skipped with no reservations whatsoever.

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Poster: midnightcarousel Date: Nov 30, 2010 7:31am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

Check out the 12/19/73 big river for a primo example of said shredding.

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Poster: SomeDarkHollow Date: Nov 30, 2010 7:37am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

Great example. I have a hard time writing off any specific tune in as lame. With the boys, a classic like an early Darkstar can be played poorly every now and then while a generally weak tune like LLR (IMHO anyway) can occasionally be outstanding.

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Poster: shakeitupnow Date: Nov 30, 2010 5:00am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

Although not my favorite part of a show, I always liked the hoedowns. It can't be all Dark Star and Morning Dew -- the cowboy songs change up the pace.
I'd rather wait for Looks Like Rain for a bathroom break.

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Poster: direwolf0701 Date: Nov 30, 2010 11:50am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

"I'd rather wait for Looks Like Rain for a bathroom break."

couldnt have said it any better :)

personally, i love the cowboy tunes to either keep a good set moving or to 'get' one moving.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Nov 30, 2010 11:57am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Time to pee?

And I thought you were gonna say "Tenn Jed"!

You could even sing along at the...at the...ya know,...urinal:

"Tennessee, Tennessee,
There ain't no time I'd rather Pee
Baby won't you carrrrrryyyy me
Outta this room to pee!"

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Poster: SomeDarkHollow Date: Nov 30, 2010 12:03pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Time to pee?

On behalf of 4th graders everywhere: well done.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Nov 30, 2010 12:07pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Time to pee?

I decided to stretch for a new demographic; my sophomoric humor is wasted on the average forumite...or is it just ignored by the average forumite?

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Poster: shakeitupnow Date: Nov 30, 2010 12:09pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Time to pee?

well, you know, LLR works pretty well as a sing-along while you pee too: it looks like rain and it feels like rain, whoa whoa here comes the rain

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Poster: William Tell Date: Nov 30, 2010 12:11pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Time to pee?

Yup; even worse if it's the guy next to you noticing your sway is creating a targeting issue...

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Poster: shakeitupnow Date: Nov 30, 2010 12:14pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Time to pee?

because of course, you gotta sway if you are singing along to LLR...

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Poster: direwolf0701 Date: Nov 30, 2010 12:13pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Time to pee?

on behalf of this 4th grader (mental age, not physical) - I quite enjoyed your alternate lyrics. plus, it is exactly where the song should stay - in the urinal

:)

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Poster: micah6vs8 Date: Nov 30, 2010 8:16am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: I Hate Me & My Uncle>Big River

I love all the cowboy tunes . Big River can contain some hot little jams . Who doesn't like a polka w/ Mexicali ? And how many of you sang your heart out on the Skullfuck MAMU ? And El Paso ? Mama Tried ? It's Americana people . Just because you have heard these songs a few thousand times doesn't get you a 'get out of cowboy tune listening' card . This is America dag nab it .( Not sure what that refers to . I was on a roll .)
I'm appalled at this thread . Where are the smelling salts ? My world is reeling .